Learn about the fascinating backstory of "autumn leaf hunting."
Fall foliage
Credit: moaan/Getty Images

Long before the advent of smartphones, people were excited by nature's vivid color changes in the fall. But when, precisely did the tradition of seeking out fall foliage originate?

As it turns out, leaf peeping has a storied past. It can be traced back to the Japanese people of centuries past who passionately embraced the practice of seeking out autumn leaves. As Samantha Zabell described in a recent article for Apartment Therapy, leaf peeping has long been a mainstay of Japanese society. Zabell writes: "...the tradition of “hunting leaves” and celebrating autumn dates back hundreds of years...Japanese culture has an entire lexicon devoted to the colors, trees, and activities that revolve around the changing hues of fall."

"This is the tradition of momijigari, which literally means autumn leaf hunting," Zabell continues, noting that we see evidence of autumnal festivals as early as the Heian Era (794-1185).

So as you set up your festive fall wreaths this season or embark on your Smoky Mountains road trip to catch the prettiest of fall hues, realize you are part of a centuries old tradition that so many fellow humans have enjoyed — even without an iPhone en tote.

This Story Originally Appeared On Southern Living